Sunday, November 11, 2012

First vision: the liberal right

It's important that we try to get to as clear an understanding of the political culture of the left and right as we can. Clarity is one thing we are in a position to achieve right now.

The way I see it both the left and the right have the same starting point, but have drawn out this starting point differently, creating distinct political cultures.

The starting point, roughly, is that the highest good is a freedom to be self-made.

On the liberal right, that has been interpreted as meaning that people should be self-reliant rather than dependent on the state, and that individuals are largely self-made in the market. If you want individuals to be self-made, then forming an identity or acting as part of an inherited ethnic group will seem too collectivist: the right liberal ideal is that you leave your ethnicity at the door (or that you hold it as a private good, like a personal taste, that is not asserted publicly).

A final aspect of a right-liberal culture is that it privileges immigrants over natives. It is immigrants who do the most to be self-made, by undertaking a journey (sometimes a risky journey) to seek economic opportunities in another country. Here's another quote from Ronald Reagan, this time form his inauguration speech:
I ask you to trust that American spirit which knows no ethnic, religious, social, political, regional or economic boundaries; the spirit that burned with zeal in the hearts of millions of immigrants from every corner of the earth who came here in search of freedom.

And at the end of this speech:
Can we doubt that only a Divine Providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breathe free? Jews and Christians enduring persecution behind the Iron Curtain; the boat people of Southeast Asia, Cuba, and of Haiti; the victims of drought and famine in Africa, the freedom fighters of Afghanistan, and our own countrymen held in savage captivity.

It is assumed by right-liberals that these people who immigrate want to be self-made and self-reliant individuals in the market too - that it is the freedom to be these things that is being sought.

So it's a shock to a right-liberal culture if, instead, immigrants act as a bloc along ethnic lines and if they are dependent on state welfare.

That's the background to a recent column on immigration by Ann Coulter. Coulter wants to increase immigration controls, but for particular reasons. She points out that Hispanic immigrants are much more likely to be dependent on state welfare:
Immigrant households with the highest rate of government assistance are from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (tied at 75 percent), based on the latest available data from 2009. Immigrant households least likely to be on any welfare program are from the United Kingdom (7 percent).

She argues that taking a tougher stance on illegal immigration won't alienate the best Hispanics from the Republican Party because the best Hispanics came to America for "freedom and opportunity" (i.e. to give up being Hispanics in order to be self-made in the market):
The truth is, a tough stance on illegal immigration can only help Romney, not only with the vast majority of Americans, but with any Latino voters who would ever possibly consider voting Republican in the first place.

As Romney said in one of the early debates, Republicans appeal to Latinos "by telling them what they know in their heart, which is they or their ancestors did not come here for a handout. If they came here for a handout, they'd be voting for Democrats. They came here for opportunity and freedom. And that's what we represent."

Coulter then notes that a larger than expected number of Hispanics supported several measures against illegal immigration:
These are our Latinos -- the ones, as Romney said, who came here for opportunity and freedom. Any race-mongering, welfare-collecting, ethnic-identity rabble-rousers are voting for the Democrat.

In the right-liberal world, having an ethnic identity is as much of a blot as collecting welfare. But that then means that the mainstream of America is also not allowed to identify itself as a distinct people with an ethnic identity. And if the mainstream has no identity of its own to preserve, then there's much less reason to be opposed to an open borders philosophy of "the more the merrier".

To recap: right-liberalism begins with the assumption that being self-made is what matters. Therefore, when the liberal right talks about freedom and opportunity it has a specific meaning, namely the freedom and opportunity to be self-made, particularly in the market. Similarly, when the liberal right invokes patriotism, it is not understood in traditional terms, as loyalty to a larger group of people you naturally identify with on the basis of a shared ancestry, history, language and culture. Patriotism means something else: a commitment to a particular kind of society based on the freedom and opportunity to be self-made.

Right-liberalism is not traditionalism. It can have a conservative tinge at times, as it is permitted within a right-liberal culture to invoke patriotism (albeit of the limited kind described above); as a belief in a self-reliant individualism can lead to an emphasis on personal responsibility; and as the desire for a limited state can encourage a belief in the supportive role of family as an alternative (though even here there are difficulties: if the higher good is to be self-made in the market, then what is the basis of a woman's commitment to family life?)

In Australia right-liberalism hasn't really held its ground as a rank-and-file culture. Perhaps the closest we get are the progress associations and service clubs in regional towns. In general, right liberalism exists more as a political current within the Liberal Party, the Murdoch press and certain university departments.

But in the U.S. right liberalism seems to have deeper roots within society. This means that traditionalists in America need to be particularly adept at identifying right liberalism and understanding its limitations.


  1. You are right in what you say about right liberalism in the U.S. My knowledge of Australia is limited, but I don't think it has ever seen itself in messianic terms, as savior of the world. I suppose that you may have acquired a bit of that sort of attitude as part of the British Empire, but there's a difference between the "civilizing mission" of the British Empire" and America as a "city on a hill."

    Talk of "freedom" is so pervasive in the U.S., and has such a long history, that we forget what it means and fail to recognize that it is an ideological slogan. One has to ask, freedom from what? If we look at the origins of this ideology of freedom in the eighteenth century, we see that it was freedom from all inherited loyalties. Burke understood this when he wrote his defense of "prejudice." The long American war for "freedom" has been a war against families, churches, nations, and cultures--the whole aim being to pulverize these institutions and reduce them to atomic individuals.

    I recently came across a letter that William Seward wrote to the Hibernian Society of the U.S. in 1841. Seward was a U.S. Senator who had been governor of New York and appeared to be destined for the White House. Writing about "personal liberty" he said, these principles, “plainly promulgated in the Declaration of Independence,” were not fully realized in the Constitution, but “their complete development and reduction to practical operation constitute the Progress which all liberal Statesmen desire to promote, and the end of that Progress will be complete political equality among ourselves, and the extension and perfection of institutions similar to our own throughout the world.”

  2. Great post, Mark. You are one of the best political bloggers out there, and your critiques of both left-liberalism and right-liberalism are excellent. There are few people out there who really analyse that sort of thing in depth and pick it apart in order to try to understand where a person of a certain mindset is coming from when he or she makes an argument that sounds anti-Western, anti-traditional and anti-white male.

  3. Mark,

    If you're feeling adventurous, you could try picking this apart and understanding where this writer is coming from:

  4. The point is that when 'progressives' critique that which is white, Western, traditional, heterosexual and male, they genuinely believe they are doing so in order to eliminate an unfair privilege and create a society based upon a greater equality for all.

    As others have pointed out, this discourse appears to consist more of a series of visceral attacks on a merely relatively well-performing group.

  5. And if there's any group that genuinely has a privilege, it's black heterosexual men. Women find them sexy because they are usually strong, confident and dominant.

  6. In America, right-liberalism is not the genuine expression of the will of the people. It is the closest thing to conservatism that the political elite will permit to exist, and therefore it is what the people have to hold their nose and vote for if they don't want left-liberalism.

  7. Mencius Moldbug has a good discussion about why "right liberalism" (American conservatism) exists -- it is essentially the politics of the non-elite whites (the "townies" or "vaisya" in his etymology) as compared with the politics of the educated white elite (the "brahmins" in his etymology), such that conservatism is merely a duller form of progressivism, a more vulgar form of essentially the same system, and one that is therefore doomed to attract those who are either distanced from elite or are isolated elements within it.

    Of course, Moldbug's sensibility is monarchist (he's a Jacobite, if I am remembering correctly), and so it isn't a very realistic political programme currently, even outisde of retail politics. But it does provide some context as to why conservatism, such as it is, exists in liberal democracies: it's the party for outliers, per this understanding, because progressivism, and the progressive party, drives the bus in democratic systems that were set up to be hostile to traditional monarchies to begin with. In order to transcend this existing dichotomy, per this understanding, the change required would be radical and systemic and must involve the elimination of democracy.

  8. Anonymous @ 2:32 In reality they are none of those things.
    That is just the media portrayal of them.
    I've always found black "men" to be the most repellent men I have ever encountered.

    (I am a woman)

  9. Anonymous @ 1:03:

    Where do you live?

    I'm not saying that all white women are attracted to black men, far from it. But significantly and noticably, some are.

    So are you a white female who would look for a white male if you were looking for a man? Please tell me, what is actually attractive about white men?

  10. If, like me, you see white people as a weak group, condemned to extinction in the long term through low birth rates and intermixing and mass immigration, then it logically follows that white men are thus weak. And weak men are never good father material, because they will produce offspring that will not be as strong as offspring that have been fathered by the men of a strong group. Social dominance strongly correlates with sexual dominance in both the animal and human world.

    The question we should be asking ourselves is not why some white women are attracted to black men, but why many white women are still attracted to white men despite their obvious weak position.

  11. And I'd like to add to what I just said...

    Why are many white women still attracted to white men? My guess is that the reality of just how weak white men are is something that these women are pretty much oblivious to; they are almost unaware of it. So they remain attracted to white men despite the white race's demographic decline.

    See also this:

    In an environment that didn't have sub-replacement fertility and multiracialism, white men would not be so weak as they are.

  12. anon @ 3:37
    But significantly and noticably, some are.

    Like I said it's the media. Why are a few significant and noticeable?
    The media. The MTV awards had two women who had black partnerships. Heidi klum and Kim kardashian. Coincidence?

    what is actually attractive about white men?

    They are everything you attributed to black "men" but it is real not bravado.
    Black "men" act like women. Their love of fashion, shoes, jewelery, their emotional outbursts when they do not get their way. Their obsession with having a gym body to make up for their unattractiveness. It's not appealing. They are also violent and have a culture that glorifies crime. I hate crime.

    Why would I not like white men? They are the most attractive, most literate, most wealthy and have most in common with me and my interests. They are charming, speak properly and can be independent.

    I don't give a shit about black "men" I wish they would go away and stop hassling me and other white women. They should chase their own race instead of other peoples women.

    And crying about it like you are owed attention from white women is even more disgusting and offensive.

  13. Anon that thinks "white men are weak" did you know that white men are the strongest group in strength sports?
    The strongest men in the world are white.
    How can you have this opinion unless you are ignorant, trolling or just trying to be obnoxiously racist towards whites.

    You should find a white man and tell him your views. He will give you a dose of reality.

  14. An interesting essay, Oz, in which you write some valuable things but also I believe get some things wrong about right liberalism. As a man of the liberal right American myself, I thought you might appreciate hearing my thoughts (Unfortunately I don’t have the time to develop them and they are very simplified, but hopefully I can express them at least crudely).
    1. I don’t think it’s ever been true that Americans have neglected their ethnic identities, at least generally speaking – on the contrary, they have tended to see their ethnic identities as the very things that have made them more American (Italian taking pride in one of their own in Joe DiMaggio, or Catholics taking comfort in the fact that one of their own finally made it to the Oval office). Sure, there has always been a great deal of discrimination against ethnics, and Americans have always been encouraged to relinquish their ethnic baggage, so to speak, and become Americans. In practice though, it has almost always been a kind of process or dynamic for most Americans, in which they recognize the beauty and tradition of their ethnic traditions while doing their best to put on the new ethnicity – if you will – of being and becoming an an American. To be sure, this process has never been easy or neat or without tension in American history, but for the most part it has worked out astonishingly well for centuries – indeed, it should be considered to be one of the great historical achievements of the West, and a tradition (if you will allow) that Americans rightly take comfort in for nurturance and sustenance and for national cohesion.
    2. I don’t believe any serious leftist right thinker in America believes that the family and community is some kind of alternative or afterthought – so to speak – to the individualistic pursuit of happiness. Randians or libertarians or the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal or the guys at Reason think that, not most conservative thinkers. Indeed, you can’t read any important conservative thinker in America – from David Brooks to George Will to Charles Murray – who does not mention the importance of family, or civil society, or free associations, as far as the sustenance of America is concerned. Their writing are literally are filled with de Tocqueville, who of course stressed the vitality of American marriage, religious involvement, the infinite number of associations and clubs (many of which have always had ethnic links) as creating the necessary foundation on which non-ethnic American democracy can flourish (Although again, being American actually is a kind of ethnic identity when you really think about it).
    3. Having disagreed with you in these first two points, let me show you now
    where I perhaps agree. I do think it is fair to say that certain American right left thinkers (especially the neos) do neglect how strongly tied American democracy is to a certain Anglo, Western European ethos as well as the Judeo/Christian tradition. They should probably be more skeptical about the universalism of American democracy, and the ability of non-Europeans or non-Westerners to assimilate and to shed their ethnic attachments over generations. In other words these immigrants do not get the American “tradition” because they are so attached to the traditions they bring from their homelands (Islamism, Mexican dysfunction and nationalism, or whatever). Or to put it another way, I think the left right conservative tradition is sufficient for Europeans – it probably isn’t for non-Westerners, or at least a significant number of those who with sufficient populations tend to become separatist ethnic enclaves (most notably again Mexican-Americans).

    Again, this is all rather cluttered and rushed, but I hope you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Again, I enjoyed reading your essay, and I’ll look forward to what you right next.

  15. Anon @ 4:37,

    I am white and male and I hate myself for it. Seriously why would anyone want to be a white male these days? And experience the humiliation of living in a world that contains lots of white women dating black men?

    I tell you something, I wish I was black. Even when I am dating women, I still hate being a white male. Even if I was to impregnate a white woman, what would that produce? White children. And what kind of dominance does that provide exactly? None whatsoever. I cannot participate in the destruction of the white racial type by choosing to mate with a white woman, and that doesn't feel powerful and dominant at all.

    I hate the colour of my skin, I hate my features, I hate everything about myself. I do not even really feel "male" in comparison with black men, although I don't feel female either.

    That's what I don't understand about these "white pride" groups. Why would anyone be proud of being white (i.e. feminine, weak and worthless) and male?

  16. The biggest problem with feminism in the USA is how it has always being a rich priviliged ideology (e.g. upper middle class and upper class). Most people in America are average in looks, charisma, income, intelligence and whatnot. It can be successfuly practiced by 1-3% of the population and still have family intact, but is a disaster for the lower classes. Charles Murray documents this. Feminism destroys the family from the lower classes all the way to the middle class. And this is regardless of race. It first started with Blacks, then has infected Hispanics and is now infecting Whites. Yet somehow rich feminists living in large urban centers will blame this on the non-existent "religious right!". It's laughable. Feminism will never own up to its mistakes. Not every man and woman can have "unlimited choices!". Most people in America are not professional power couples.

  17. I'm not saying that all white women are attracted to black men, far from it. But significantly and noticably, some are.

    The ones that are, are noticably low-class, trashy, unattractive, and usually extremely fat.

    If, like me, you see white people as a weak group, condemned to extinction in the long term through low birth rates and intermixing and mass immigration, then it logically follows that white men are thus weak.

    This is called circular reasoning.

    Whites are weak because they don't breed; don't breed with them because they are weak.

    I am white and male and I hate myself for it.

    I don't believe a word of it.

    Go away, non-white troll.

  18. @anti-white anon,

    "Why would anyone be proud of being white (i.e. feminine, weak and worthless) and male?"

    This is actually the culture itself indoctrinating, specifically white males, into dressing in tight pants and wearing girl shirts. The culture , and feminism, has demonized masculinity in white men to the point where chicken legged, femininity is the last resort, while they turn a blind eye to black culture, e.g rappers, gangs etc. now in your opinion who would a woman really want, would she want to date another woman or date a male that would actually give her that protected secure feeling most women desire? The irony of course is black culture idealizes the wrong aspects of masculinity, if a woman gets pregnant the man will usually leave, why stay when the woman will kick him out anyway, and that will leave her to rely on the government. It's rather genius if you ask me, idealize a culture that leaves people vulnerable, then have the government come in and take care of the vulnerable, which in turn makes more people leave, then the family unit breaks down, then we're all subjects to a tyrannical "utopian" government.

    It could also be from the foods we eat right now, specifically processed meats with growth hormones and foods that have an estrogen like compound in them, the hormones end up making boys smaller and less muscular, and that in turn leads them to be the type of male that screams "WHO ARE YOU TO SAY WHAT BEING A MAN IS ABOUT!?" aka the "men" on reddit.

    Anyway, my point is, don't blame white's for being victim to the culture, blame the culture the place where justin beiber is seen as attractive, where people from one direction or whatever their name are seen as the ideal body type/haircut etc. Look at how they portray muscular men, it's never in shows where a woman is genuinely getting attacked, but in shows like the UFC and MMA which portrays the side of masculinity that gets out if one does not have self-control.

  19. It's laughable. Feminism will never own up to its mistakes. Not every man and woman can have "unlimited choices!". Most people in America are not professional power couples.

    That's very true, but the reason why you see these attitudes is that Americans tend to live in bubbles, separate from each other and surrounded by people very similar to themselves. Thus, you have "professional power couples" in DC or NY or SF or LA or any of a dozen other major metros living in bubbles of people like themselves -- SWPLs basically -- which reinforces the idea that "everyone is like this", and the related idea that "everyone could be like this if they really wanted to be like this".

    Celebrities also live in a bubble, but they are aware of it, because it's a very small bubble and it's widely known that it's a bubble. The SWPLs live in a bubble but are less aware of it because the bubble is big enough (it generally includes all the top universities, as well as the mainstream media) that it doesn't seem like a bubble and seems instead like an "alignment" -- when it is, in fact, a population bubble that is isolated from the population at large.

    One thing I like to tell people here in DC is that they should get in their car and drive west for 5 or 6 hours and then spend some time there. Not north or south, because north and south contains more bubbletowns like NY, Princeton NJ, Raleigh and Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, etc. West takes you to WV and then Ohio and Kentucky. Very much outside the bubble, other than Columbus OH. But the number of people who will do that (unless they have family there) is negligibly small. So they don't see that they live in a bubble.

  20. To anon who hates being white,

    On the one hand, I understand that it can be demoralising being part of the group that is losing ground all the time.

    But you need to resist at a personal level. We may not have control over the direction of society at the moment, but we do control our own personal response.

    The fact is that women of all races see white men as desirable husbands. We are a good mix of stable provider, sporty, creative and intelligent. I wrote recently about three Anglo men in my workplace who have recently married three very classily beautiful women.

    As for your masculinity, that's something that's up to you. You don't have to go along with an emasculated modern culture. Do what you can to develop yourself along masculine lines, physically, mentally and spiritually. Refuse to be any less masculine than any of your forebears.

    And back yourself. If you want success with women then being self-confident and charismatically masculine counts for a lot. You won't develop confidence in yourself if you hold onto such a negative self-image.

  21. Mark,

    There's plenty of individual variation as well. What about an unemployed white male who doesn't do any proper sport? Is he really going to be attractive to women?

    Of course confidence is important. I would agree with your assertion that it counts for a lot.

    The worst thing is that even if you achieve success in life on every possible personal level, two things will remain true: the fact that we are going to die, and the fact that our racial group is slowly but surely going down the toilet into nonexistence in the long term.

  22. There's plenty of individual variation as well. What about an unemployed white male who doesn't do any proper sport? Is he really going to be attractive to women?

    I'm an unemployed white male that doesn't play sport. I find this humorous because I've had all my dating success in this period.
    I dated an extremely attractive (model) woman from Scandinavia for several years.

    Believe it or not.

  23. White men are the civilisation creators that the rest of the world envy. Hence the endless attacks on them. I only get down if I feel I won't live up to the promise of my forebears but never for being white.


    We have a winner.

    Mark you hit the nail on the head better and more precisely than Auster does, and also with a more dispassionate and effective tone.

    Time I started spreading links to some of your articles around these here interwebs, your thoughts need wider circulation.

  25. Politically neocons are turncoat Trotskyites.

    Media barons like Murdock are powerful financial resources supporting neocons agenda. Without them neocons are just "lumpen-intellectuals" ("An lumpen-intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows."), a bunch of harmless Trotskyites. With the media outlets and financial support from media empires and military industrial complex they are a very dangerous political force that along with Christian Right hijacked the Republican party and managed to enforce its agenda on the society using the disinformation the same the way it was used in the USSR.

    Neocons control a substantial number of publication. Among them the most prominent are Commentary, National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, The National Interest, The Public Interest, and most Murdock-controlled publications, as well as publications and web-sites of several think tanks, especially Project for the New American Century (PNAC), American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Center for Security Policy (CSP)). See Christian Science Monitor/Neocon think tanks and periodicals for more information.

    The original neocons were a small group of Trotskyites who, in the 1960s and 70s, saw the overwhelming US military strength as a panacea to solving all world problems and objected to what they saw as the reluctance of the political establishment to endorse the unlimited "arms race" with the USSR. From the very beginning neocons were openly militaristic and allied with the military industrial complex.Where most conservatives favored d├ętente and containment of the Soviet Union, neocons pushed direct confrontation, which became their raison d'etre during the 1970s and 80s. Many of them worked in the 1970s for Democratic Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson closely connected with military-industrial complex and were rewarded by forming the core of the Defense Department during Ronald Reagan implementing his aggressive strategy of undermining the USSR economy with steep hikes in military spending. With the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States emerged as the uncontested solo superpower in the world. Still, the neocons decried any reductions of defense spending. During the 1990s, they were the most prominent pro-military-industrial complex PR force constantly exaggerating the threats and warning the public about supposed dangers of reducing the defense spending, openly using the disinformation for the advocating military intervention on "humanitarian grounds" and so-called "nation building". They played a prominent role in misinforming the public and unleashing extremely profitable for the military-industrial complex Yugoslavian war. Their long-time ties to the military-industrial complex helped many neocons win key posts in the second Bush administration. The reasons for second Iraq war were probably different but profits for military-industrial complex were even bigger.

  26. Unlike Trotskyites, neocons promote religion as a useful political tool and even formed an alliance of convenience (rather than conviction ) with the Religious Right activists in the Republican Party. For example, as a tactical maneuver, Commentary, the flagship neocons magazine, in the 1990s began publishing articles claiming that Darwin, the bete noire of Southern Baptist creationists, was wrong and that "biblical" creation science has been vindicated, something that all neocon intellectuals including Commentary editors privately consider to be a complete nonsense. But for tactical reasons neocons allied with "born-again" republican activists who argued that the survival of the United States hinges on "restoring its Christian heritage" and preach a bland of militarism that can be called "messianic". Support of the theocratic aspirations of the Religious Right and their "messianic militarism" means that neocons represent a really dangerous force in the society. To quote a former presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater who probably cannot be accused of any liberal sympathies, "Our problem is with ... the religious extremists ... who want to destroy everybody who doesn't agree with them. I see them as betrayers of the fundamental principles of conservatism. A lot of so-called conservatives today don't know what the word means." For a greater understanding of the interplay between the neocons agenda and the political agenda of the Religious Right, see the Texas Republican Party Platform, 2002